Roy Exum: Weston Wamp Is Promising

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

When Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn was included on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, it wasn’t lost on Weston Wamp that the accompanying tribute to the conservative politician in the magazine was written by none other than his chief adversary, President Barack Obama. “It proved to me that you can have ideological differences, and still disagree, yet remain close friends. I really believe that must happen if we are going to get our country where it is functional again. We must work together.”

Weston, who has a chance to be the youngest member of Congress if he can defeat incumbent Republican Chuck Fleischmann this fall and then win the general election, told me Tuesday morning that the biggest difference in this year’s campaign and his first try two years ago is the American public’s open disdain for Congress. “People are upset with what it appears that Congress has become and realize that until Republicans and Democrats can come together the gridlock will continue.”

Wamp, who is actively campaigning in a large motor home, laughed at the comical image some of his detractors have used. “The truth is that it is a lot of fun. When I go into small towns in the Third District, they know I’m there! Ironically, it also makes great sense. Instead of driving three hours each way, we sleep over in a parking lot and drink coffee with the local people at 6:30 the next morning. I want to be a presence for people who will know that I’m going to represent them.”

Wamp, who will be the nation’s first member of the “millennial” generation if elected, savors the role. “What that means is that my generation is going to inherit what is happening in Washington right now whether we want to or not. I guess I am representing a lot of voters’ children and grandchildren and their futures. And I must tell you some ‘young blood’ in Washington will be a good thing. A fresh approach isn’t a bad thing.

“When I ran last time I had some people who were apprehensive because of my age. I also had some who were proud of me because I was willing to accept such a challenge at my age. I am learning there isn’t a great difference between the two, and I feel I’ll make a lot of Tennesseans proud if I can represent them. I sure would be proud of it.”

Weston and I talked about his role models and his acquaintances in Washington. “I think Senator Coburn is the biggest reason I believe I can make a difference. He has stood by his values and he’s worked hard for what he believes in but he’s shown the way to be successful is by working with others – often across the aisle – in order to move forward. His friendship with the President began when they were freshmen in Congress and has never wavered – I think that is wonderful.”

That might explain why, when the Republican Party’s elected officials shunned President Obama when he visited Chattanooga last summer, Weston was among those greeting Obama to Chattanooga. “Why would that make anyone mad?” he said yesterday. “I was raised to respect other people and I felt like Chattanooga was honored when the President came here. So … I was really honored to meet him. I hope to meet him again and again,” Weston added with a grin.

“My father (Zach) has had a huge influence on me, obviously, but Dad didn’t let Washington change or warp the way he felt. He is doing well, incidentally, in a business development company. He’s happy and he’s told me he’s glad I still want to help those who live in the Third District in any way I can if I am elected,” he said before leaving early on a three-day sprint in the upper reaches of the district.

“You asked about my heroes in Washington and I’ll tell you one – I adore Bob Corker. I have watched and studied him a lot closer than most people and he’s taken Washington by storm. He’s one of the top ten people in Washington and you know why? He’s rolled up his sleeves and works harder than anybody there. He’s a phenomenal leader and the thought of being in Washington with him would be a dream. He could teach me so much and in return I’d have his back in Congress. Oh, man,” laughed Weston, “he’d be Batman and I’d be Robin.”

Weston worries that the cliquish Republican Party in Congress has stymied its efforts. “We’ve got to get past this us-versus-them belief that it’s the best way to run a country. When I study politicians, one of the biggest differences I see in being effective is the way those who are best at it seem to respect and listen to their peers. Teamwork wins but when the party line is simply to antagonize one another, everybody loses. At least that’s what I think.”

The Oklahoma senator, Coburn, gave Weston tremendous insight for his political goals. “He’s written books and given speeches I’ve read but he has been true to his vision. His constituents adore him – he won by 70 percent of the vote in his last election because he’s what the people want. I’m working real hard to convince people this year I can be the same type of person,” he said.

Have you changed much since your last race? “I’ve learned a lot. I’ve married a girl I love. I’ve tried to learn as much as I can … I still make some mistakes but I’ve never met anyone who didn’t make some when they were trying hard. Then again, I still drive a pickup truck, wear working boots and try just as hard as the first campaign. I learned so much in the last three years – that’s the biggest thing.”

Weston’s goal is that of anyone entering the public sector – to make a difference. “We just announced we’ve raised over $400,000 this quarter. What gets me is people are giving to our campaign who have never, ever made a contribution before. They are sick of what is happening. I ask they give me three months, at the max, after I am first elected, to forge friendships, hire the staff, and build the bridges I need.

“In return I’ll promise a presence that has been missing in Tennessee and I’ll promise pride will return to the Third District,” said Weston, adding, “I don’t think we can wait any longer.”

royexum@aol.com



Roy Exum: Happy Birthday, Mr. Berg

This past Monday we should have closed the Post Office, let kids out of school, and lowered our flags to half-mast. March 2 is the anniversary of Moe Berg’s birthday and the legendary Casey Stengel once said Moe was “the strangest man ever to play baseball.” Moe played major league baseball for 16 years, finishing with the Boston Red Sox in 1939 and a lifetime batting average of ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Insult To Israel

I am deeply saddened that over two dozen members of Congress – all Democrats – will be boycotting a speech by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, when he speaks in Washington tonight. I am also offended that the President of the United States will not receive Netanyahu prior to the speech – a customary gesture on such occasions – because he claims it is too close to ... (click for more)

Snow In Today's Forecast After Balmy Wednesday; Hamilton County Schools On 2-Hour Delay

Temperatures were mild on Wednesday, reaching 74 degrees, but they began dropping as the day went on - leading to a winter weather advisory. The advisory went into effect at 4 a.m. on Thursday and is to continue until 4 p.m. The forecast is for freezing rain,sleet and snow. Hamilton County Schools will be on a two-hour delay on Thursday . School officials said, "Based on ... (click for more)

Grand Jury Indicts Mark Kaylor In Alleged Beating Case; He Resigns From Red Bank Police; His Attorney Asks For Trial

A Red Bank officer was indicted on Wednesday by the Hamilton County Grand Jury on charges related to an alleged assault against a detainee. At the same time, Red Bank Police Chief Tim Christol said he had accepted the resignation of Officer Mark Kaylor. The Hamilton County District Attorney General’s Office earlier said it had reviewed the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation ... (click for more)

Vols Stop 5-Game Skid With Upset Of LSU

BATON ROUGE, La. – Senior Josh Richardson  scored 20 points and junior  Armani Moore  finished with 19 to lead the Vols to a 78-63 victory over LSU on Wednesday at Pete Maravich Assembly Center. After being tied at halftime, the Vols (15-14, 7-10 SEC) shot 69.2 percent from the floor and outscored LSU 45-30 in the second half on their way to snapping ... (click for more)

Chattanooga To Host National Amateur Soccer Championships

US Soccer and US Adult Soccer announced this week that Chattanooga's Finley Stadium will host the 2015 National Amateur Championships on May 29-30. There will be one team each from the four top amateur leagues; the National Premier Soccer League, the United Soccer League's Premier Development League and the US Amateur Soccer Association's Open and Amateur Champions.  ... (click for more)